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Did the Redskins hire the right Bengals coordinator?

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Did the Redskins hire the right Bengals coordinator?

Less than a week after the Redskins hired Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden to be their new head coach, Minnesota hired Cincinnati’s other coordinator. Mike Zimmer, the defensive guru for the Bengals, was announced as the ninth head coach in the Vikings’ history on Wednesday.

The Redskins requested an interview with Zimmer per NFL protocol when you are interested in talking to another team’s coordinator about your head coaching job. But the interview never happened. The Bengals were eliminated from the playoffs on Sunday, Gruden came to town for his interview on Tuesday evening and he never left.

There were some who thought that Zimmer might be a better fit for the Redskins as they have had big issues have on the defensive side of the ball. Even with Marvin Lewis, who made his reputation on the defensive side of the ball, at head coach the Bengals finished no better than 17th in total defense from 2003-2007. Since Zimmer joined them in 2008 they have been in the top 10 in defense four times including the last three years in a row. Not coincidentally, the Bengals made the playoffs in each of the last three seasons.

Was Zimmer more what the Redskins need? They have not been in the top 10 defensively since 2009. As we saw from three of the NFC’s final four teams, a solid defense can be a young quarterback’s best friend. Defensive improvement may be the best way for Robert Griffin III to join peers Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, and Cam Newton as participants in the deep rounds of the playoffs.

I don’t think that anyone would have had a legitimate beef if Zimmer had been the guy. But for this team at this time, Gruden is probably the better fit.

Zimmer’s approach is similar to that of the departed Mike Shanahan, the old-school my way or the highway style. Gruden can get riled up when it’s called for (as we saw on Hard Knocks) but he is more of the enthusiastic, collaborative type coach. He is the breath of fresh air that this team needs rather than more of the same following the failed Shanahan regime.

And make no mistake about it, the fact that he was a quarterback in college and in the Arena League is a big factor in him being the right guy for the job. The most important task on this team for the next few years will be the development of Griffin. The fact that the head coach walked in Griffin’s shoes (or a version of them, anyway) will help in getting Griffin where he needs to be.

Still, as noted, Zimmer would have been a very solid hire in Washington as well. The good thing is, we’ll get some evidence as to whether the Redskins made the right choice on the field of play. The Vikings will be one of the Redskins’ opponents in 2014. While on head-to-head matchup won’t tell the whole story it could give us an idea of who is further ahead.

The full story, of course, will take a few years to unfold.

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Pierre-Paul injury a big loss for Redskins' playoff rival

Pierre-Paul injury a big loss for Redskins' playoff rival

When you’re fighting for a playoff spot, it’s not only about what happens to you. It’s also about what happens to the teams you’re competing against for that playoff spot. And one of the Redskins’ main competitors got some very bad news this morning.

The Giants, who are in the No. 5 spot in the NFC, the first wild card spot, got word today that defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul has had sports hernia surgery. The recovery time is at least four weeks, probably more like six. The Giants’ season is likely to be over by the time six weeks elapse, barring a playoff run without one of their best defensive players.

Pierre-Paul has helped solidify what was a shaky Giants defense last year. He has seven sacks and a fumble recovery returned for a touchdown. He has been heating up down the stretch with 5.5 sacks in his last three games.

His loss is a big blow for the Giants. They are a game ahead of the Buccaneers, who hold the No. 6 spot, and a game and a half ahead of the Redskins, who are currently seventh.

The Redskins play New York in Week 17 so the Redskins have to pick up just one game on the Giants over the next three to have a shot at passing them in the season finale.

The chances of that happening looked pretty good with Washington playing playing three teams with losing records in the Eagles, Panthers, and Bears and the Giants going against division leaders Dallas and Detroit in addition to the Eagles. With the Giants now without Pierre-Paul, the Redskins’ probabilities got tilted in their direction a little bit more.

Just finishing ahead of the Giants wouldn’t guarantee a playoff spot but it would come close. It would mean that the Redskins would have at least nine wins and the Redskins’ tie means that two teams would have to get to 10 wins to knock them out of the playoffs. The Bucs have to win three more games to get to nine wins and the Packers and Vikings would have to run the table.

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Redskins Stat Breakdown: What worked — and what didn't — against Arizona

Redskins Stat Breakdown: What worked — and what didn't — against Arizona

CSN has teamed up with The Edge Systems to provide the occasional statistical review of Redskins game film. The Edge is analytical football software currently being used by coaches in the NFL, SEC, ACC and the media, providing some of the fastest and best data in football.

Below is a breakdown of the Redskins run game against Arizona - a game coach Jay Gruden admitted did not feature enough carries for Robert Kelley. 

The Redskins had a lot of success with their GAP runs early in the game.

In the first half they were successful on 75 percent of their GAP runs. 

As the game wore on the Redskins moved away from what had been successful and only ran two GAP runs in the second half.

As the Redskins power run game vanished, so did their prospects for winning the game.

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